Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Wolfhounds get the better of Saxons

Ian Humphreys
Ian Humphreys

Ireland Wolfhounds made up for last week's heavy defeat in Scotland by beating England Saxons 20-11 at a wind-battered and rain-lashed Ravenhill.

First-half tries from Denis Hurley and skipper Chris Henry, both converted by Ian Humphreys along with two penalties from the Irish fly-half, saw the Wolfhounds home despite being under severe pressure in the scrums.

As for the Saxons, last weekend's thumping win over Italy A was a distant memory as countless errors and lack of precision let them down near Ireland's line.

Wolfhounds, playing into the fierce gale, scored from their first attack when fairly static ball was moved wide and Nevin Spence powered through two tackles to offload to Hurley, who stretched his legs and dived in under the posts after running in from outside the 22. Humphreys added the extras into the wind.

Northampton's Stephen Myler got the Saxons off the mark with a 20th-minute penalty after Ireland were penalised at a ruck but the Wolfhounds should really have stretched their lead three minutes later when a great run and inside chip from David Kearney was just too much for Humphreys to gather and score.

From the resulting scrum, though, Saxons' prop Paul Doran Jones was yellow-carded by French referee Pascal Gauzere and, from the following set-piece, Henry barged over to score. Humphreys managed his second conversion and Ireland were in front 14-3, which is how it stayed until the end of the opening 40 minutes.

Humphreys then extended Ireland's lead with a monster 58-metre penalty five minutes after the restart. But, from here, Saxons began to exert their superior firepower up front and, after several scrums on Ireland's line, Wolfhounds prop Brett Wilkinson was binned for dropping the scrum.

Saxons finally made the their man advantage count when Ugo Monye got in at the left corner with what appeared to be his first touch of the ball in the game. Not surprisingly, Myler missed the conversion. However, the Saxons fly-half did manage a close-in penalty six minutes after the hour to narrow the Wolfhounds' lead to six points.

The visitors then kept up the pressure as the game entered its final quarter but two botched lineouts on Ireland's line allowed the Wolfhounds survive the siege.

Inevitably, Ireland had the final say when Humphreys landed a last-minute penalty after the demoralised Saxons went off their feet at a ruck.

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